Tuesday, May 13, 2014

TUESDAY TIPS: The Seat of Knowledge

NOVELISTS ARE ODD PEOPLE when it comes to budgets. They think nothing of dropping better than $2,500 on a MacBook Pro with Retina display, and in a way that makes sense (as one novelist told me, "Eric Clapton buys great guitars, and I buy great laptops."). But then when it comes to what they sit in while they use that laptop, they will settle for some of the cheapest junk that the office-supply store (or Goodwill) has to offer.
   I know, I know. I have admitted here, previously, that I do much of my own first-draft writing sitting on a worn piece of wicker patio furniture.  But that's composition; the stuff  that I do early in the morning, before the sun comes up, when I am surrounded in a fog of birdsong and inspiration.
   During the rest of the day, when I'm editing, answering correspondence, doing nonfiction writing and just performing office stuff, I am in a desk chair. And I'm in it a lot: about 2,000 hours a year is a pretty good estimate. That's a lot of backside milage.
   Now, before you send the email, I should point out that I have tried some chair alternatives. I have tried working standing up (which made me feel like I was working the counter at McDonald's), and I tried one of those big rubber ball things (for about 20 minutes, after which it felt stupid). And the kneeling-chair made me feel as if I was Anne Boleyn in the chapel.
   So I decided I needed a good chair and, seeing as I usually hold onto a chair at least twice as long as I hold onto a computer, I figured that, for my chair, I should budget at least half of what I would budget for a computer.
   With $1,500 as my budget, then, I went chair-shopping, and wound up selecting (for well under my budgeted amount) the Humanscale Freedom Headrest, adding the gel seat and gel armrests as options. It looks durable and well-designed, and every time I lean back in it, I feel as if I am about to get my teeth cleaned or have a shave (not that far a stretch; the caricaturist Al Hirschfeld used a barber's chair as his office throne). At the desk, I can adjust it so it feels ergonomically perfect before the keyboard, and I keep a footstool behind me, so I can swivel around and put my feet up to do some reading ... or take a nap.
   I'm not spending any more time in the office than I did previously, but I'm getting more done, and feeling more refreshed when I knock off at the end of the day. So I'd say the chair is paying for itself. In fact, it probably did so in the first month.
   And I'm really enjoying the naps.

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